Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents




Anti-Soviet graffiti covering World War II monument in Warsaw.
Courtesy Ronald D. Bachman


President Lech Walesa meets with President George H.W. Bush on official visit to Washington, 1991.
Courtesy David Valdez, White House Photo Office

In mid-1992, Poland was enjoying the fruits of three years of skillful statesmanship by its foreign minister, Krzysztof Skubiszewski, who had directed foreign policy in five governments beginning with Mazowiecki in August 1989. Skubiszewski guided Poland through a tumultuous period during which Warsaw reclaimed full sovereignty in foreign affairs for the first time since World War II and moved resolutely to "rejoin Europe."

The Soviet-dominated Warsaw Treaty Organization (known as the Warsaw Pact--see Glossary) and its economic counterpart, the Council of Mutual Economic Cooperation (Comecon--see Glossary), which had set the parameters of Polish foreign policy for decades, no longer existed after mid-1991. By year's end, the Soviet Union itself had disappeared, and by late 1992 Moscow was to complete the withdrawal of combat troops from Poland. Meanwhile, Warsaw pursued forward-looking bilateral relations with the many newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Only in the case of Lithuania could relations with eastern neighbors be described as less than cordial.

To replace the old Soviet-dominated military and trade structures, Poland sought collective security with its southern neighbors, the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (see Glossary), and Hungary, with which it formed the so-called Visegrád Triangle. This arrangement envisioned a bilateral free trade zone between Budapest and Warsaw, which both the Czechs and the Slovaks were invited to join. The Visegrád partners would also coordinate their strategies to join West European economic and military organizations.

In mid-1992, Poland's relationship with its other traditional enemy, Germany, also was forward-looking. Acquiescing to German reunification, Warsaw won assurances that Bonn would recognize the Oder-Neisse Line as the official, permanent frontier between Germany and Poland, ratifying the postwar transfer of German lands to Poland. Germany offered economic assistance, investment, and support for Polish membership in the European Community (EC-- see Glossary).

Relations with other Western nations in mid-1992 were generally excellent. Warsaw was frustrated, however, by its inability to gain full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western European Union (WEU--see Glossary), and the EC and by the reluctance of the West to lower import tariffs on Polish goods (see Postcommunist Policy Adjustments , ch. 3). Traditionally warm ties with the United States returned to normal after the difficult 1980s, and Poland regained most-favored-nation trade status and benefited from a range of United States economic and technical assistance.

Data as of October 1992